Le Mans FR3.5: Rowland claims third consecutive pole

Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Oliver Rowland saw off challenges from Egor Orudzhev and Matthieu Vaxiviere to take his third pole in a row in Saturday qualifying at Le Mans.

Both Orudzhev and Vaxiviere looked to have a shot at overhauling the Brit late on, but ended up within one tenth of the benchmark.

Vaxiviere had headed the session nine minutes in when the running was interrupted by a red flag, with AVF's Beitske Visser facing the wrong way off-track.

And when the session was back underway, Rowland quickly vaulted at the top and headed his French rival by 0.136s at the halfway mark.

The status quo remained until there were three minutes to go in the session, at which point Rowland posted an improved time of 1m21.614s.

But Vaxiviere, on his first proper flying lap on fresh tyres, was 0.13s quicker, with Tom Dillmann briefly splitting the two.

Rowland responded next time by, but his time stood for mere seconds, Orudzhev moving to the top with 1m21.051s.

And yet the Brit was back on top again with his next lap, crossing the line with less than a minute left on the clock and clocking in at half a tenth quicker than the Russian - with a 1m21.002s.

Vaxiviere got one final chance to dethrone Rowland as he started a promising lap right before the chequered flag but, despite personal bests in sectors one and two, he could not overhaul either the Brit or Orudzhev.

His compatriot Dillmann also looked quick late on, but a lap that kicked off with a purple sector one was scuppered and saw him arrive at the chequered flag in fourth.

Tio Ellinas was fifth, ahead of Dean Stoneman, Roy Nissany and Nick de Vries, with Aurelien Panis and Gustav Malja making up the top ten.

Andre Negrao was 12th on his return to the series, while debutant Nikita Zlobin took 18th.

Rowland will be crowned champion in the Saturday race if he wins and Vaxiviere fails to score points.

Qualifying results:

Pos. Driver Team Time Gap
Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 1'21.002  
Egor Orudzhev Arden Motorsport 1'21.051 0.049
Mathieu Vaxiviere Lotus 1'21.085 0.083
Tom Dillmann Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1'21.208 0.206
Tio Ellinas Strakka Racing 1'21.282 0.280
Dean Stoneman DAMS 1'21.363 0.361
Roy Nissany Tech 1 Racing 1'21.571 0.569
Nyck de Vries DAMS 1'21.675 0.673
Aurelien Panis Tech 1 Racing 1'21.690 0.688
10  Gustav Malja Strakka Racing 1'21.762 0.760
11  Yu Kanamaru Pons Racing 1'21.906 0.904
12  Andre Negrao International Draco Racing 1'22.006 1.004
13  Alfonso Celis AVF 1'22.027 1.025
14  Nicholas Latifi Arden Motorsport 1'22.120 1.118
15  Jazeman Jaafar Fortec Motorsports 1'22.185 1.183
16  Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 1'22.306 1.304
17  Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1'22.527 1.525
18  Nikita Zlobin Pons Racing 1'23.479 2.477
Beitske Visser AVF 1'32.151 11.149

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Event Le Mans
Sub-event Saturday qualifying
Track Le Mans Circuit Bugatti
Drivers Matthieu Vaxivière , Oliver Rowland , Egor Orudzhev
Teams Fortec Motorsports
Article type Qualifying report